Sunday, November 29, 2009

A.D. New Orleans after the Deluge

“This is not a test. This is the real deal” (p.37). At 10:03pm on August 27, 2005, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin encouraged the residents of New Orleans to evacuate. Less than an hour later, the wrath of Katrina began. Residents were forced to make a potentially life altering choice – leave and hope or stay and lose. Residents, who chose to leave, quickly packed their most cherished items, while those who chose to stay, gathered food, first aid supplies, and guns to fend off looters.

In A.D., Neufeld depicts the reality of Katrina through the eyes of seven different New Orleans residents. Denise, Abbas, Darnell, and Brobson (The Doctor) chose to ignore evacuation warnings while Leo, his wife, Michelle, and Kwane and his family heed warnings and leave New Orleans.

Denise and her family are told they have a room at the local hospital where her mom works, but once they arrive, they learn that their room has been given away. Denise goes home and barely survives the night. The next day Denise and her family head to the Super Dome. Denise describes the conditions and problems surrounding the Super Dome and discusses how supposed “thugs” were more helpful than the U.S. National Guard.

Abbas and Darnell decide the stay because they think it will be cool to be in New Orleans when Katrina hits. They stay in Abbas’ store. Every few hours they have to move their supplies and themselves to higher ground due to the flooding. When they are stationed on the roof, a boat comes by and offers to bring them to safety, but the men decline. They want to wait it out.

Brobson (The Doctor) stays behind primarily because he is not concerned with Katrina. He is older and has lived through several hurricanes. He is so nonchalant about the whole thing that he throws a hurricane party. In the after math, Brobson plays a key role in helping survivors.

Leo and his wife leave New Orleans and head to Houston. They pack up some clothes and their dogs. Leo is apprehensive about leaving his large, valuable comic book collection. He briefly toys with the idea of moving the boxes to higher ground, but in the end, decides not to.

Kwane and his family head to Tallahassee, Florida to stay with his older brother at college. Kwane’s father is a local pastor and he is stressed about what will happen when people return to New Orleans. Kwane and his family pray for safety and hope that all will be well in New Orleans. As the storm worsens, Kwane’s family begins to realize they may not be going home for awhile.

A.D. is a superbly drawn and written graphic novel. Neufeld uses lots of colors to show changes and emotions. A.D. would be great for students who do not enjoy reading novels. It could easily work as a book to introduce students to different types of books and could lead to a love of reading. I would recommend this book for mature middle school students or high school students. There is some inappropriate language and I worry that some middle school students would be too immature to look past it and read the story. This book might also attract readers who have experienced some sort of natural disaster and they may be able to relate to some of the characters and their feelings. In addition, A.D. could also be used in conjunction with a history lesson on Katrina or other natural disasters that the U.S. has experienced.

Whether you experienced Katrina directly or indirectly, this book will hit home. A must read that shows Katrina in a new light!


Anne said...

This sounds like an excellent bookwhich can be used in several courses. This would be great a history/ehnglish brisge. Contemprary history is as important as ancienthistory and this would be agreat way to show how history and its representation have evolved. Plus, since many students have lived through this period they can make several connections.

Andra said...

Exactly. I think using books such as this one to explore recent history (i.e. Katrina, 9/11, etc.) will attract more student attention. I also think reading the stories of people who lived through Katrina makes it more real and interesting, especially compared to reading out of a textbook!

Paige said...

This sounds like a book that teens would enjoy. I was going to choose this book to read for the assignment and your description makes me want to go out and read it. I am interested in finding out what happens with all of the characters. I was actually on a family trip in New Orleans two weeks before Katrina hit. I was very surprised when it happened although I was not directly affected, it seemed unreal that we were just there and toured the city and now it was all under water. I think that having characters with individual stories is a good way to teach about historical events and makes it more interesting to teens.

Danielle Bartman said...

I agree with all these comments, by using historical events that have happened during their life span, it also helps that with todays technology we have ways to explore these events. It really makes for a great spilt lesson plan between history and English, your review made me want to find out what happened to these people.I can not wait to read it and find out

averch said...

Definitly a great book for history class. We have a whole class on Global Issues and Modern Issues. This would be a great read to help students see the tragedies of not only the world but within the United States itself.

Andra said...


I'm glad you want to read it! I highly recommend it!

My mom went on a missions trip to New Orleans about a year ago and she said it was devastating. It is still a mess. Houses sit vacant and falling apart. Schools don't have supplies to function. It is very sad that so many years later, there is little improvement.

Thank you for your comments.


Andra said...

Danielle and Averch,

A.D. is absolutely a graphic novel that can be used in other subject areas. I think it would be a great way to hook the students into a lesson.

Thanks for your comments!